Former Oakland forward Trey Townsend becomes first to transfer into Arizona Basketball

Oakland v NC State
Oakland v NC State / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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A sigh of relief

It's been a difficult offseason for Arizona, considering that the roster has seen a dwindling beyond just the expected losses of Kylan Boswell and Pelle Larsson. Oumar Ballo is gone, and both Caleb Love and KJ Lewis are testing out the NBA draft waters. Paulius Murauskas landed at St. Mary's, and Filip Borovicanin and Dylan Anderson are seeking new homes too.

Trey Townsend, Mohamed Diarra
Oakland v NC State / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

Townsend has always been productive, but he kicked it into a new gear in 2023-24. He averaged 17.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game — all career highs — while notching 1.3 steals per game in 36.4 minutes per game on average. These efforts earned him the 2023-24 Horizon League Player of the Year Award.

His performances in Oakland's magical March Madness run were even more special: 17 points and 12 rebounds in the upset over No. 3 Kentucky and a whopping 30 points and 13 rebounds in the loss to No. 11 NC State.

All that is to say that the offseason has taken far more than it has given back. The addition of Townsend is a welcome change of pace. However, it's still not guaranteed that he'll suit up in the red and blue come the fall.

The fine print

When Townsend entered the transfer portal, he also declared for the 2024 NBA Draft. His intentions are certainly to play for Arizona — if he doesn't get drafted. So in all honesty, it's less of a bird in the hand and more like two in the bush. He had the following to say to ESPN on why he chose Arizona:

"Arizona checked all the boxes I was looking for during this process. I look forward to getting to Tucson and playing for [Arizona head] coach Tommy Lloyd, who has a proven track record of producing NBA players similar to me."

Townsend to ESPN

His ultimate goal isn't to play for Arizona, but to reach the NBA. If he doesn't need to go through Arizona to reach that, he won't. However, playing for such a small school like Oakland hasn't done much to help scouts see him, and his draft stock seems to be either low or non-existent. A season at Arizona against higher-level competition may be just the push he needs.

What's next?

Trey Townsend, Benny Williams
Oakland v Syracuse / Bryan Bennett/GettyImages

Regardless of how the NBA draft plays out, Lloyd can't be caught with his pants down come late June. There needs to be a plan in place if Love, Lewis, and Townsend are all selected and won't return to Arizona.

The recruiting must go on. The incoming freshman class is loaded with talent, but there's no guarantee that it will show right away at the collegiate level. In the meantime, snagging another guard and forward in the transfer portal certainly won't hurt, especially with all the depth options searching for greener grass elsewhere.

Townsend's arrival should be celebrated — cautiously. This is a win on the recruiting trail for Arizona and Lloyd, but this can't be the only thing they hang their hats on this offseason.

ICYMI. KJ. KJ Lewis declares for 2024 NBA Draft, maintains eligibility. dark

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